wed 26 MAY 2021


Embracing diversity: inclusive social infrastructure planning for stronger communities


Australian cities are increasingly multicultural. In Melbourne and Sydney, over a third of people speak a language other than English at home, and in key population centres, including Greater Western Sydney, this proportion is much higher.


Cities are experiencing pressure to diversify the way that facilities, services and infrastructure are provided to meet the needs and aspirations of different cultural groups.


Local and state governments across Australia recognise that cultural and linguistic diversity is key to vibrant, inclusive and creative cities, and strengthening diverse communities is a core policy objective for many.


Social infrastructure plays a critical role in delivering on this goal by providing spaces for people to celebrate and share their culture, connect with services and with each other. However, there is no established policy guidance to help planners develop social infrastructure that takes account of the unique needs of culturally diverse communities.


Drawing on recent experience in social infrastructure planning with culturally and linguistically diverse communities across Australia (including in Canterbury-Bankstown, Parramatta and City of Sydney LGAs, along with precincts in Greater Dandenong, Maribyrnong and Brisbane City LGAs), this presentation will explore case studies and identify principles for providing social infrastructure (e.g. open space, recreation facilities, cultural facilities, community centres and libraries) to support the diverse needs of multicultural communities.


Key recommendations to improve social infrastructure provision for culturally diverse communities include: recognising the importance of engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to deeply understand their needs and aspirations; designing flexible and adaptable spaces to support a variety of uses, and the importance of “non-traditional” social infrastructure, such as cultural and creative facilities and economic development spaces. We will also recognise the importance of non-physical social planning initiatives that celebrate cultural diversity, including markets, festivals and cultural celebrations.

Allison Heller MPIA

Ethos Urban

Allison has more than 20 years’ experience in urban and social planning / policy across the private and public sectors. With expertise in social impact analysis, social infrastructure planning, placemaking and broad-based social sustainability strategies, she brings a deep understanding of the complexities of urban development and the growing need for firms to demonstrate social value to both shareholders and communities. As the City of Sydney’s manager of social strategy for the past five years, Allison recently delivered the City’s inaugural social sustainability policy and action plan – a roadmap for improving liveability and community resilience over the next decade.

Lucy Fokkema MPIA 

Ethos Urban

Lucy has more than six years’ experience in urban and social planning / policy. She has experience in a diverse range of areas including social infrastructure planning, social sustainability strategy development, social impact assessment and community and stakeholder engagement. Her recent projects include delivering social infrastructure strategies for Canterbury-Bankstown, Bayside, Northern Beaches and Woollahra councils. Lucy has experience working for both state and local government, and prior to joining Ethos Urban, led the development of City of Parramatta’s first Social Sustainability Framework and was a key contributor to City of Parramatta’s Community Infrastructure Strategy.